Including the Youth Perspective: The Development of the CPQA Camper Survey

Troy Bennett


The purpose of this study was to pilot the use of the CPQA Camper Survey, a camper self-report survey to assess summer camp program quality. The survey is based on the best practices identified in the American Camp Association’s Camp Program Quality Assessment (CPQA) short form (American Camp Association, n.d.). Best practices are organized into 5 subscales on the CPQA: staff behavior; emotional safety; camper choice, planning, and reflection; learning at camp; and nature. The CPQA Camper Survey asked youth campers at 5 different overnight camps to report on their perceptions of how often camp program quality best practices occur at summer camp. Results from the surveys collected showed that for each of the 5 subscales, campers’ average camp program quality ratings tended to cluster around the upper end of the rating scales. Respondents’ answers were consistent across the questions comprising each subscale, which indicates that the questions in each subscale reliably measure the same construct or idea. The results of this study show that the CPQA Camper Survey is one tool that camp directors and administrators can use as part of their program improvement processes to assess the quality of their programs, and thus improve the quality of the camp experience.


program quality assessment; camper perspective; youth; self report; camp program quality

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